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Publication Detail
Political mechanics of smallness: The Baltic States as small states in the European Parliament
Abstract
We analyse the experience and background of Baltic Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Small country size in conjunction with party system fragmentation has led to MEPs being scattered among the organs of the European Parliament (EP) and to negligible representation on party boards. This can both reduce the Baltic states’ influence in the EP as well as the influence of MEPs within their parties; it can reduce the EU-related policy expertise in domestic politics. However, we also discover that the Baltic MEPs have comparatively high levels of national parliamentary and cabinet experience. We find the national political experience of MEPs to be negatively correlated with country size, particularly in new member states such as the Baltic states. We propose a theoretical model for the relationship and also discuss additional factors (shorter length of political career paths and attractiveness of MEP status) that can further strengthen the relationship in the Baltic states. We argue that the higher levels of experience may compensate both for the small numbers of representatives in the EP and the small number of MEPs on party boards. Particularly MEPs who have served in national cabinets have, as ministers, interacted with the national parliaments and the EU (both the European Commission and the EU ministerial level meetings). Hence, their countries and national parties are ceteris paribus at an advantage when it comes to using argumentative and lobbying strategies in asserting influence in the EP.
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